Sex and comedy make for strange bedfellows (pun intended). After all, laughter is not the reaction most of us are gunning for when we things get hot and heavy and we start taking our clothes off. That’s why the cast of The Sextacular Show at ImprovBoston is here to laugh with you, never at you, when it comes to sexuality. Instead, the purpose of the show is to celebrate all things joyous, sensual and spectacular about sex, while simultaneously raising sexual consciousness and positive awareness in the community.
So what exactly does this celebration look like? It’s hard to say. Since Sextacular’s inception in March 2014, no two shows have been the same. The Sextacular Show has only put on a handful of shows thus far – all to sold out crowds – with a rotating cast of characters that includes a pole dancing unicorn, a clown exploring masturbation, a kink photographer (slideshow included) and the Hitchin’ Bitches, a rope bondage group for women. And if you thought you would be able to lay low as an audience member, forget it: Each show ends with a group conversation facilitated by a local academic or sex education professional. Oh yeah, and there’s improv. And stand-up.
“We ask each of our performers, ‘How do you celebrate your sexuality? How does sex feel when it feels right?’” said Chris Connolly of Somerville, the show’s host, artistic director and founder. “What happens on stage is a natural expression, and it’s different for everyone.”
Connolly has been a sex educator for the past decade, including a stint in Chicago working with homeless and transgender youth before moving to Somerville. She currently works a day job at an insurance company, but describes her work with The Sextacular Show as “what [she] was meant to do.” Connolly believes there is a real hunger in the Boston area for safe spaces where people can talk about positive sexual experiences, and hopes that her show is filling that void with a certain panache that is missing in typical sex ed discourse.
Combining her career in sex education with her storytelling and improv hobbies was a natural next step for Connolly, who launched The Sextacular Show last year at the urging of a friend in another sex-themed storytelling show. Connolly soon realized, however, that in order to stay true to her sex-positive roots she would need to do some things that were unorthodox in the improv world.
“Improv in particular doesn’t do sex. Sure, there are plenty of dick jokes,” said Connolly. “There’s a lot of alluding, but what we’re trying to do is talk about sex in a way that’s both funny and authentic.”
The Sextacular Show’s answer to that sort of simplistic sex humor can be seen on their YouTube channel in a bit of improv put on by the show’s producer, Josh Michel. “One Night Stand,” a video recording from their last show, details the five minutes before you sleep with someone for the first time, and the five minutes after. The result is funny in an awkward, but charmingly sweet way – just like a real one night stand might be with a person whom you genuinely liked.
It’s not all sweet, though. Rumor has it, the January Sextacular Show might include dancers covered in little else but paint, as well as a panel on “how to talk dirty.” Get your tickets before they’re gone; the venue only has 90 seats, and their last two shows sold out weeks in advance.
“We’re so new, and we’ve got such an overwhelmingly positive response so far,” said Connolly. “Then again, we have ‘sex’ in our name, and that always sells.